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30 posts from June 2015

June 30, 2015

Heat keep Dragic; Heat optimism on Wade; Tidbits on Heat's free agent options & tax conundrum; Dolphins; Canes; ex-Fin/Cane to run for Congress

9:45 a.m. update: The Heat agreed on a new deal with Goran Dragic this morning (five years, $90 million), which both sides had expected for months.


Another nerve-fraying summer for the Heat has essentially become a three-step plan: Re-sign Goran Dragic (both sides are optimistic that will happen on a five-year deal for at least $90 million), re-signing Dwyane Wade and finding another shooter for its bench.

There could be a fourth step if the Heat dumps a player or two to lessen its luxury-tax burden, which wouldn't be surprising because the tax ramifications are so severe otherwise.

On the Wade front, several Heat people are optimistic a deal will get done, even though Wade is expected to at least consider other options.

As Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick noted, Wade and Heat owner Micky Arison have met to discuss the situation. And Wade isn't acting like somebody who's about to leave; he has been in contact with the Heat’s first-round pick Justise Winslow.

What's more, ESPN’s Chris Broussard said “league execs [are] telling me there is not a robust market for D-Wade because of his age (33) and injury problems.”

And several teams that would be appealing to Wade appear to be prioritizing other free agents. At this point, it would be surprising if Wade leaves the Heat.

Asking and answering as free agency starts:

### What’s realistically within Miami’s price range as far as outside help?

If Wade and Dragic re-sign, Miami likely would have only a $3.4 million taxpayer’s midlevel exception, but there’s no assurance the Heat would use it because of a potentially large tax bill. The chance of Miami using its exception increases if the Heat dumps Mario Chalmers and/or Josh McRoberts and/or Chris Andersen without taking money back.

Depending on Wade’s and Dragic’s first-year salaries, using that $3.4 million could result in a tax hit of between $10 million and $15 million if Miami doesn’t dump a few players to lower payroll.

Remember Pat Riley said Friday, speaking generally: “This is also a business, as much as it is about basketball.”

If Wade surprisingly bolts, then Miami probably would have a $5.5 million mid-level exception and possibly a $2.1 million bi-annual depending on where its payroll falls.

At $5.5 million, the Heat could be in the mix for Mike Dunleavy, Gerald Green, and (buyer beware) JR Smith, though Chicago wants to keep Dunleavy and Cleveland also is said to be pursuing him. The $5.5 million probably wouldn’t be enough for Monta Ellis, an expected Heat target if Wade bolts.

But at $3.4 million or less, realistic names --- should Miami even spend exception money --- would include Marcus Thornton (there has been Heat interest in the past), Alan Anderson,  Marco Bellinelli (Yahoo! says Charlotte has made him a priority and has a full $5.5 million midlevel), Omri Casspi, Wayne Ellington, Dorell Wright, Tayshaun Prince, Jason Terry, Rodney Stuckey, Mo Williams, J.J. Barea (ESPN Dallas reports Heat interest), Aaron Brooks and C.J. Watson.

Some of those names could be available at the minimum, as could Leandro Barbosa, John Jenkins, Richard Jefferson, Rasual Butler, Luke Babbitt, Jimmer Fredette, Gary Neal, James Jones, Willie Green and Gigi Datome.

Among power forwards (should Miami care to add one at the minimum), Broussard today mentioned Carlos Boozer (who we've previously mentioned as a possibility) and Sacramento's Derrick Williams as players of interest to the Heat. 

Keep this in mind: For players signing minimum deals (topping out at $1.5 million), teams are charged a tax hit only on $947,000.

### Where could Wade go?

Two Wade associates cite the Lakers as his top choice other than the Heat. But the Lakers have only two centers under contract (Tarik Black and Robert Sacre) and reportedly will initially target LaMarcus Aldridge (he's meeting with them tonight), DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Love and Greg Monroe. The Lakers have about $23 million to spend –-- not enough for an elite power rotation player and Wade.

For the Lakers to turn to Wade, they probably would need to miss out on all four of those centers or power forwards. And even then, they are expected to turn to Tyson Chandler and Robin Lopez.

The Lakers, by the way, could miss out on all of its four targets. Aldridge is strongly considering the Spurs; Jordan is meeting with multiple teams; Love reportedly leans toward staying in Cleveland; and the Knicks are “about as close to a done deal” for Monroe “as you can get,” according to The New York Daily News.

What about other options for Wade? Several of the other potentially appealing teams are pursuing other players, at least initially.

The Knicks have $27 million in space, but Yahoo! reports they’re front-runners for Monroe and Aaron Afflalo, who combined would take all of that cap space. Chicago is not likely because the Bulls have made a max offer to restricted free agent Jimmy Butler. Milwaukee can't be ruled out but the Bucks are reportedly targeting Tyson Chandler with its cap space. Detroit has cap space and Wade has a history with Stan Van Gundy but does Wade want to finish his career playing for a non-contender?

Dallas has more than $20 million in space and needs to replace Monta Ellis; but Aldridge, Jordan, Wes Matthews and Danny Green are reportedly its priority targets. And the Spurs are initially pursuing others, including Aldridge.

Other playoff teams with the cap space to make competitive bids for Wade, if they choose, include Atlanta (if Hawks lose DeMarre Carroll), Portland (which has more than $40 million if Aldridge and Matthews bolt), Indiana, Phoenix and Toronto.

The Clippers and Cavaliers could offer no more than mid-level exception money, making them unlikely.

### What can the Heat do if Wade leaves?

If Wade bolts --- and again, this would surprise the Heat --- it would still be difficult for Miami to get under the cap.

Here’s why: Chris Bosh, Dragic, Luol Deng and Justise Winslow would take up between $50 million and $53 million of a $67 million cap. Throw in Chris Andersen ($5 million salary), Mario Chalmers ($4.3 million), Udonis Haslem’s $2.9 million and Josh McRoberts ($5.5 million) and other low-salary players or cap holds and that would leave the Heat with only exception money --- not enough to land any of the other top free-agent shooting guards (Afflalo, Green, Matthews, Ellis or probably Lou Williams).

The Heat could create room to offer Ellis a deal starting with a salary of at least $8 million only if it loses Wade and trades four of its non-minimum backups.

### Why is the luxury tax worrisome for Miami?

Because the Heat falls into the category of repeater tax teams --- a punitive penalty for franchises that have surpassed the tax threshold three of the past four seasons.

Say the Heat gives Wade a contract starting at $18 million and Dragic $17 million. Without trading anyone, that would leave the Heat with a payroll of about $93 million, with a projected tax threshold of $81 million. (That tax threshold and the cap could end up slightly higher than expected, CBS reported late tonight.)

But instead of having a dollar-for-dollar $12 million luxury tax payment, the Heat instead would be taxed by increments of 2.5 percent for each dollar over the tax (on money spent between $1 and $4.99 million over the threshold), 2.75 percent (for money spent between $5 million and $9.99 million); 3.5 percent (for money spent between $10 million and $14.99 million over the threshold) and so forth.

So if the Heat is $12 million over the cap, that would be a $33 million tax hit.

And trading Andersen and Chalmers could save the Heat $26 million or more in this scenario. Trading McRoberts and Chalmers would save even more.


### Receiver Greg Jennings told ESPN’s Vikings reporter recently that he didn’t think he would sign with the Dolphins until a phone conversation with president/football operations Mike Tannenbaum.

That eased his concerns about how he would fit in and whether he could assert himself as a leader here. Though some evaluators say Jennings has lost something, Ryan Tannehill said: “It’s unbelievable how he can break corners down, with his savviness of how to get guys leaning.”

### ESPN analyst Damien Woody, talking about the Dolphins this week: “The last couple of years they've melted at the end, which tells me they’re soft. They’re soft mentally. Until they’re able to finish, you know, I’m going to call it what it is.”

### Please see the last post for details on the Dolphins' training camp schedule, which was released today.

### Look for former Dolphins and Hurricanes receiver Randal Hill to announce plans to run for U.S. Congress in District 24 in Miami.

### UM's entire 2015 recruiting class is now enrolled, without an academic casaulty in the bunch.

### The Cowboys aren't the only team that UM coaches visited to pick up tips this offseson. Art Kehoe said he and tight ends coach Larry Scott went to Dolphins camp. And Kehoe said he met with Tampa Bay coaches as well.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Dolphins announce training camp schedule and special event at FIU

With Sun Life Stadium undergoing renovations, the Dolphins announced Tuesday that their annual training camp scrimmage will be held on Friday, Aug. 7, at Ocean Bank Field at Florida International University.

Admission for that 6:30 p.m. practice/scrimmage is $5; tickets can be purchased at dolphins.com. Parking is free – lots open at 4 p.m. for tailgating and a “fan festival” -- and there is room to accommodate 15,000 fans for the scrimmage.

The Dolphins say fans will be able to get autographs from current players and alumni. A fireworks show will follow.

Sun Life Stadium, which is undergoing $400 million in renovations as part of a project that will continue into 2016, will be ready for the Dolphins’ first home preseason game on Saturday, Aug. 29, against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Dolphins open their preseason schedule on Thursday, Aug. 13, at Chicago, and then play Aug. 22 in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers. After the Falcons game, they close preseason with a Sept. 3 home game against Tampa Bay.

The Dolphins also announced Tuesday that training camp will open on Thursday, July 30 --- one of 12 practices free to the public and one of 13 free and open to season-ticket holders who are members of the “Finatic” program.

Ten of the 12 open practices begin at 8 a.m.

The Dolphins say they will have the same number of practices free and open to the public as last year even though they will be traveling to Spartanburg, S.C. for joint practices with the Carolina Panthers on Aug. 19 and 20.

Those practices at Wofford College begin at 8:30 a.m. and are open to the public.

The Dolphins say they chose FIU to host the scrimmage because it’s the only venue in Miami-Dade that’s big enough to accommodate it.

That will allow additional time for renovations to Sun Life Stadium. The project is being done in stages. A re-design of the main seating bowl will be ready to start the season; a weather canopy will take another year to complete.

Additionally, high-definition scoreboards will be placed in each corner; each screen will have a “founding partner” that will generate additional advertisement revenue. The Dolphins also are adding a permanent stage to the parking lot for smaller-scale concerts.

Owner Stephen Ross agreed to pay for or borrow $350 million of the project’s $400 million price tag. In return, the Dolphins will be paid a subsidy by the county for bringing major events to the Miami Gardens facility.

Here’s the training camp schedule:

          TIME                    DATE                                                  LOCATION

8 a.m.                   Thursday, July 30                             Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL

8 a.m.                   Friday, July 31                                   Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL

8 a.m.                   Saturday, Aug. 1                              Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL

8 a.m.                   Sunday, Aug. 2                                 Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL

8 a.m.                   Tuesday, Aug. 4                               Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL

8 a.m.                   Wednesday, Aug. 5                         Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL

8 a.m.                   Thursday, Aug. 6                              Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL

7 p.m.                   Friday, Aug. 7                                   Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium – Miami, FL

3 p.m.                   Sunday, Aug. 9                                 Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL

12:30 p.m.           Monday, Aug. 10                             Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL

8 a.m.                   Tuesday, Aug. 11                             Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL

*1:15 p.m.           Saturday, Aug. 15                            Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL

8 a.m.                   Sunday, Aug. 16                               Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL

8 a.m.                   Monday, Aug. 17                             Doctors Hospital Training Facility – Davie, FL


*Finatic Only Member Day

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz... Check back later today for a lot more. 

June 29, 2015

Winslow, Wade talk; Deng stays with Heat; Wade opts out; What Justise Winslow, Riley and Spoelstra had to say at Winslow's introductory news conference

Three updates below, followed by what Justise Winslow and Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra had to say at Winslow's news conference today:

2 p.m. update: Forward Luol Deng is staying with the Heat. Agent Herb Rudoy said, via text, that he has exercised the opt-in on his contract and will remain with the Heat.

Deng will earn $10.1 million next season, the final year of a two-year contract. So the Heat will enter the off-season set at small forward with Deng, and Justise Winslow and James Ennis behind him.

Deng was excited about returning to a team that he believes can be very good next season.

And this is good for the Heat, because Miami would not have had cap space to replace him with a similar player.

The Heat fully expects Dwyane Wade to become a free agent by tonight's 11:59 p.m. opt-in deadline but was still awaiting official word as of noon.

Goran Dragic has informed the Heat that he's opting out, and both sides are expecting a deal to get done shortly after the July 1 start of free agency.

Dragic is expecting the Heat to offer him a five-year deal between $90 million and $100 million.

With Deng opting in, the Heat very likely will be limited to a $3.4 million taxpayer midlevel exception if Deng and Wade re-sign.

The Heat still could be position to use the full $5.5 million midlevel exception if it cuts salary elsewhere, but using the $5.5 million also means Miami would have hard cap, which would limit its flexibility.

The Heat remains optimistic about Wade staying in Miami, even though he will look around in free agency. We'll see how this plays out. The concern for the Heat would be if the Lakers and Knicks --- who are also pursuing bigs --- make a big offer.

3:30 update: Wade, as expected, will opt out of his contract, ESPN reports. (This was confirmed shortly before 5 p.m. by Wade's spokesperson, who said there will be no additional comment.)

3:35 p.m. update: Heard this morning that Wade and Winslow have talked, according to his Roc Nation agent, Joe Branch.

Winslow told Dan Le Batard and Jon Weiner later in the day that he spoke to Wade and "told him [it would be] a lot of fun if he stays."

Interesting nugget, from Le Batard: He said the Celtics offered the Heat four first-round picks and two second-round picks for the No. 10 draft pick. Like Miami, Boston also wanted Winslow.


Highlights from Justise Winslow’s introductory Heat news conference today:

### Pat Riley: “Justise was highly thought of by everybody in the NBA. For some reason, he ended up in Miami. If we had projected him to be No. 10, we would have locked in on him. He ended up falling to us in a very blessed way. We are so excited about possibly having him with our team for his entire career.”

### Erik Spoelstra: “We like players that can play multiple positions, can do multiple things. But more important than that, it’s the winning quality, coming from a winning program. You can tell a lot about a player during times in the Tournament when you’re down.

"There were some tough moments, some times of doubt, particularly the game against Wisconsin. And then all of a sudden, it changes. Winning players rise in those occasions. You can’t quantify that with analytics or a statistic. When you see it, you know it. You want those players on your team. Winslow has proven, in a remarkable way, [to be able] to rise [in those moments].”

Spoelstra called him a “swiss army knife” because of that versatility.

### Winslow: “I definitely think I’m a very versatile player.  I showed that at Duke…. Since draft night, I’ve been able to soak it all in, live in the moment. It’s an organization that wants to win right now. That’s what I’m most excited about. That’s why when I got an opportunity to go to the Heat, I was so happy…

“I don’t listen to the comparisons. I watch film on different guys, trying to pull things different guys do. It’s about me being me, me playing my game and going out there and performing….

“I had no time to be a kid. I wasn’t just a freshman on the bench. I had to pick up the game faster. That’s where my basketball IQ came from…. I’ve been working hard all my life…. They expect nothing but greatness from me, and that’s what I expect to produce.”

### Winslow is playing Summer League for the Heat in Orlando and Las Vegas. The goal, Spoelstra said, is “get out there, get to know our system. We can’t wait to get started.” The first summer league practice is Wednesday at 10 a.m.

### Winslow: "I've had pressure on me my whole life. It's nothing I can't handle. I sort of think I thrive under pressure."

### Winslow said he lifted weights with John Lucas in Houston in past years…. Winslow spoke of the importance of not “taking criticism personally.”

### How much as Coach K told him about the transition? “Ever since I declared, Coach K has been very supportive and helpful through the whole process," Winslow said. "He told me it’s going to be a tough transition, especially since I’m so young. [At such a young age], playing with veterans in their 30s, it’s going to be tough. He has been telling me to stay with it and be true to yourself.”

### Winslow cracked: “Right now, I’m focused on trying to remember everyone’s name…. and then we can move on to strength and agility training.”

### Winslow, on his impressive play in the NCAA Tournament: “Four of us didn’t know what to expect in the Tournament [because they were freshmen]. Coach had me guarding a lot of different people. As long as I’m on the floor, I’m going to produce…. Ultimately, we got the job done.”

### Riley, on acquiring players from Duke: “I’m a Kentucky Wildcat. Same qualities probably. Obviously, Mike and what he does at Duke and his whole career as a basketball coach and the number of great players that have come out of his program and on to the NBA, and the fact he has won the NCAA championship a number of times. We call it ‘it.’ It’s an intrinsic inner quality that players have. That’s something that helps self-motivate him.

“That’s what he has, that ‘it’ quality, that intrinsic motivation and desire and grit to do whatever he has to do to win. That’s what’s compelling. That’s what I saw on film, that’s what I read in all the reports. It’s not a coincidence that as things became tougher for his team, he became great.”

Riley joked: “We were drooling at the fact he’s not going to come to us.”

### Spoelstra, smiling: “If it’s 50/50, we’re going with the Duke guy. This was 99 to 1. Coach K has developed an incredible program there of sustainable winning. It’s developing players that want to sacrifice and play for something more than themselves.

"This is a me generation. Basketball is a team guy. When you show ‘we’ qualities at a young age, that stands out. The maturity he’s shown at 18, 19 years old. We didn’t talk like this at 18, 19 [Spo referencing Winslow’s poise and thoughtfulness on the podium today]. We weren’t this mature.”

### Riley: “Everybody knows I like experience. But you can also sense when you watch [Winslow] on the court, there are 19 year old players and I get the feeling he plays like a grown man. He’s got the same maturity as some [older players]. He’s unique [in that way]. Come October, in training camp, he is going to show why he’s beyond his years.” 

Note: Because Riley addressed free late Thursday night, free agent questions were not taken at today's news conference.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

June 27, 2015

Heat parts ways with Beasley; As Jose Fernandez comeback looms, history offers mixed news on Tommy John surgery; Dion Jordan; Heat & Winslow nuggets; UM/MLS

Quick Sunday 1 p.m. update: The Heat informed forward Michael Beasley on Saturday night that it will not pick up his $1.3 million option for next season.

The Heat indicated to Beasley that the decision to draft Justise Winslow was a major factor in the decision to part ways with Beasley.

"Michael has shown a lot of poise and maturity in coming back from China and battling back into the NBA and earning not only a position but a role where he could contribute, and the future for Michael is bright and his talent is still being developed," his agent, Jared Karnes, said by phone today.

There was no discussion of Beasley returning to the Heat down the road.

Beasley essentially announced the news on his Instagram account, saying: "Goodbye, Miami, Florida. Wish that I can say it's been real."

During his third stint with the team, Beasley averaged 8.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and shot 43.4 percent in 24 games.

Beasley essentially was caught up in a numbers game, with Miami needing to clear out roster spots to make room for Winslow and other additions this summer.

Henry Walker, another player on the bubble, has a series of guarantees that kick in on several dates over the next few months. 

Meanwhile, Luol Deng's agent told our Joe Goodman today that Deng has not decided whether to exercise an opt-in on his contract and remain with the team or become a free agent. A decision must be made by midnight Monday. Dwyane Wade is in the same predicament.





Pitchers, on average, have seen their earned-run averages rise and fastball velocity decline a bit when they return from Tommy John surgery. Of course, there is nothing average about Marlins ace Jose Fernandez: a 16-8 record, 2.25 ERA and .183 batting average against in his first 36 big-league starts.

So as Fernandez nears Thursday’s start against the Giants --- his first big-league game since Tommy John surgery last May --- he says bluntly: “I expect to be as good as I was.”

What’s realistic to expect after Tommy John? Several points to consider:

### A 2014 America Journal of Sports Medicine study analyzed 147 of the pitchers who had Tommy John between 1999 and July 2011. Here’s how the pitchers compared before and after the surgery (maximum three years before and after):

ERA: 4.23 before, 4.67 after

Batting average against: .249 before, .257 after

Average fastball velocity: 91.2 before, 90.8 after

### Nothing can be assumed in the aftermath of Tommy John.

This is sobering: That AJSM study said 57 percent of those 147 pitchers returned to the disabled list with throwing arm injuries. Twenty percent never even returned to pitch another game.

And ESPN’s Stephania Bell, citing research of her own and from Dodgers vice president of medical services Stan Conte, relayed this interesting nugget:

Of the 85 Tommy John surgeries between 2012 and 2014, 19 were undergoing the procedure a second time, including 11 of the 31 who had it in 2014. (Of those 31, 30 were pitchers.)

According to Bell/Conte, of the 235 MLB pitchers who have undergone Tommy John surgery since 1999, only 32 have undergone it a second time, but one-third of those second surgeries have happened over the past 15 months, which is pretty scary.

Another, Joel Hanrahan, has already undergone a second Tommy John this year.

### The good news for Fernandez: Several All-Star caliber pitchers have returned to past form quickly after the operation in recent years. Mets ace Matt Harvey, within whom Fernandez kept in contact over the past year during each of their recoveries, entered the weekend 7-5 and with a 3.18 ERA since returning April 9.

Tim Hudson, Josh Johnson and Stephen Strasburg pitched well in mid-to-late-season returns from Tommy John, then were exceptional the next year, though Johnson has diminished considerably since and needed a second Tommy John surgery last April.

Anibal Sanchez, John Smoltz and David Wells finished in the top four of Cy Young balloting after undergoing Tommy John.

### But results are mixed with in-season returns. Former All-Stars Francisco Liriano and Jordan Zimmerman struggled initially before becoming very good again.

“When I got back in May, I didn't have the results I wanted or expected,” said Cubs reliever Jason Motte, who had 42 saves and a 2.75 ERA for St. Louis in 2012, underwent Tommy John in May 2013 and was mediocre for the Cardinals (4.68 ERA) after his May 2014 return. “Matt Harvey had a full year and normal offseason. That's a little different than doing it during the year, which is what I did and Fernandez will do.

“It's not like coming back in spring training and you have time to face hitters. You're coming back and these hitters are in midseason form and locked in.”

Motte’s advice to Fernandez? “You can't be cautious or hesitant, because then you may end up messing something up. For me, it was trusting in your elbow,” Motte said during the Cubs' visit to Miami earlier this month.

Motte believes Fernandez will take the right approach because he “goes right at guys and has great stuff.”

### Fernandez has been surprised how many young amateur players have asked him if they should have the surgery even if they don’t need it, to enhance their longevity and performance. Fernandez told them that’s not a good idea.

### Fernandez allowed six hits, two walks, four runs and struck out eight in five innings in his final rehab start for Jacksonville tonight.

### For more on Giancarlo Stanton's injury, please see the last post. 


### According to a club source, the Dolphins will give thought to keeping suspended Dion Jordan in 2016 and aren’t actively trying to collect signing bonus money from him even though he’s suspended for all of 2015 after violating the league’s drug policy because of a diluted test.

And we now know why Jordan did not participate in Miami’s offseason program: According to an NFL spokesman, league rules say players who already have been suspended for the following season cannot participate in any offseason activities, including OTAs and minicamp. By rule, Jordan's interaction with the team is limited to weekly contact with Kaleb Thornhill, the Dolphins’ director of player engagement.

### Not only did the Heat land one of the draft's top-six talents in Justise Winslow, but he fits perfectly into the Heat’s plan to play faster next season, because of his excellence in transition, his catch-and-shoot acumen on three-pointers and his versatility.

In order to play faster –-- which is important to Goran Dragic –-- the Heat at time wants to use a bunch of smaller lineups when Hassan Whiteside is resting, and Winslow can play three possible positions in those lineups.

### Though Pat Riley compared Winslow to Golden State’s Draymond Green, Winslow compares himself to San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard… Winslow needs to improve his mid-range game and 64 percent free throw shooting, but Riley said: “It’s unlimited where this guy can go.” Riley believes besides being a threat on the perimeter, Winslow will be able to post up at 6-6 and “what I like the most about him is he’s an attacker.”

### Turner analyst Grant Hill: “With all due respect to Shane Battier, Justise Winslow might be the best Duke defender of all time.”

### Here's more from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, on a video posted on Duke’s web site: “You're lucky to get Justise. He's ready to be a star in the league. He's mature physically. 6-5 1/2 , 6-6. 225 pounds.

"He doesn't have to get stronger. He’s strong; he plays strong. He's way beyond his years in terms of mental toughness and smarts. Can guard one through four. He can score, but he can [also] really defend. He's an ultimate team player. I love Justise.”

### The Heat believes Winslow can play small forward or shooting guard, and Winslow told SI.com: “I’ve played almost everywhere in my life. In AAU and in my first year in high school, I was a point guard. In fifth grade I was a power forward. Now, shooting guard, small forward, it doesn’t really matter to me.”

### Here's what ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla had to say about shooting guard/Heat second-round pick Josh Richardson, a classical piano player who improved as a shooter every year at Tennessee and was a defensive All-American last season:

Richardson has “size, athleticism, and one discernible NBA skill, which I think will come on the defensive end.  That's going to be his best opportunity to make a team is going to be as a wing defender who can play some point and has the potential to become a good NBA three‑point shooter.”

### Add Georgetown 6-10 center Joshua Smith and Iowa 6-10 forward Gabe Olaseni to the list of undrafted rookies invited to join the Heat's Summer League team.

Smith, listed at 350 pounds, averaged 10.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.7 blocks last season. Olaseni, from London, averaged 8.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks for the Hawkeyes last season.

Please see the last post for details on others invited to join the Heat's off-season program and more Heat notes.

### Monday looms as a big day for the Heat; Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng become unrestricted free agents if they don't exercise opt-ins in their contracts by 11:59 p.m. Monday. And the Heat must inform Michael Beasley by 11:59 p.m. whether it's exercising its team option on the veteran forward.

### Though some at UM are cautiously hopeful a joint MLS/Hurricanes football stadium at Marlins Park can get done, another high-ranking UM official said he’s skeptical of this happening because of political landmines; the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County both own some land on the site, as do several private property owners, according to local political officials.

David Beckham’s group would like UM to contribute toward stadium construction for that proposed 40,000 seat-stadium at Marlins Park and UM hasn’t ruled that out.

But even though Donna Shalala and UM raised $3 billion in donations before she left Miami at the end of May, a high-level Trustee cautioned that many donors gave that money believing it would be used toward academics. Therein lies the rub in the Board of Trustees and new president re-allocating any of it. But the money is there if UM decides to use it.

Barring a change of heart, we hear Stephen Ross isn’t inclined to let UM out of its Sun Life Stadium lease without a buyout payment. Dolphins Stadium officials were taken aback and not pleased when Shalala openly pined for a new stadium in an interview with The Associated Press before her departure.

The initial Beckham stadium proposal for that Marlins Park site would permanently require closing 16th Street. The group’s vision is to use the Marlins Park garages for parking for UM football and MLS games. But there wouldn’t be nearly as much tailgating space as Sun Life Stadium offers.

### FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said the Atlantic Coast Conference “talked about going to a floater as a cross-over game and not playing Miami every year. But I don’t want to give up the Miami game. That’s Florida State. That’s our history.” That now seems unlikely to happen.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

June 26, 2015

Stanton out for a while & what Marlins say about payroll purge; Examining the surprising and serendipitous events that led Winslow to fall to Heat; Heat adds players

Quick Saturday update:

Marlins sluggers Giancarlo Stanton is out four to six weeks with a wrist/hand injury, the latest blow in a Marlins season that has fallen woefully short of expectations.

Stanton sustained a broken hamate bone outside his wrist but there was no ligament damage, a story that was first reported by ESPN and confirmed by The Herald.

Stanton was leading baseball with 27 homers (three ahead of Todd Frazier and Bryce Harper) and also had an MLB-leading 67 RBI.

But even with Stanton, the Marlins are 15 games below .500 at 30-45 and have the third-fewest wins in baseball, ahead of only Philadelphia and Milwaukee.

Stanton suffered the injury while swinging at a pitch in Friday's 7-1 loss to the Dodgers.

"On the swing, my bat dug into my hand a little bit,and it didn't feel the greatest," Stanton said after the game. "We'll just get it check out and know for sure what's going on."

Stanton said he felt discomfort in one of his earlier at-bats and it became "worse and worse" as the game continued. Stanton struck out swinging in each of his final three at-bats.

"It's just pain," he said Friday. "It's on my hand, where I grip the bat."

Without Stanton, the Marlins lose by far the biggest bat from a lineup that already was struggling to score runs.

Stanton, who signed a 13-year, $325 million deal this past offseason, was hitting .344 with 12 homers and 23 RBI in 24 games in June.

With Stanton out, Ichiro Suzuki figures to receive the majority of the playing time as the third outfielder, alongside Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. Infielder Derek Dietrich also has learned how to play the outfield.

The Marlins might now consider trading a few veterans to playoff contenders, with pitcher Dan Haren perhaps the most attractive of the group.

But Marlins president David Samson emphasized in spring training and again in May that even if the Marlins didn't end up being a good team, there would not be payroll dumping. The Marlins did that in 2012, trading several high-salaried players over a five-month period, beginning with Hanley Ramirez.

This time around, the Marlins have fewer of those types of contracts. But they're not dealing the two players with the most lucrative contracts: Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich.

Samson has spoken of the importance of having "stability" and not wild fluctuations with the payroll.

That said, that does NOT mean the Marlins won't deal a few veterans who aren't in their longterm plans.

The Marlins have baseball's lowest payroll at $81 million, but the Dodgers are covering $12.5 million of that amount (the salaries for Haren and Dee Gordon).


Heat notes on a Friday night:

The Heat thought there was such little chance of Duke forward Justise Winslow falling to 10th in the NBA Draft that Pat Riley never even spoke to him in the preceding weeks, let alone worked him out.

So what created this stunning and serendipitous turn of events, Winslow somehow remaining on the board until the Heat snagged him?

The top five players drafted --- Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Jahlil Okafor, Kristaps Porzingis and Mario Hezonga --- were all expected to be off the board before Miami’s pick. But then the pieces started falling in place for Miami.

Four key developments that ultimately maneuvered Winslow to the Heat:

### One reason Sacramento Kings executive Vlade Divac surprisingly selected Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein at No. 6 ahead of guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who many considered a top-five talent, was Mudiay's refusal to work out for the Kings in Sacramento.

“I heard a lot of good stuff about Mudiay,” Divac said. “He refused to come here and work out and I just felt I didn’t know him enough to make a very important decision, so I just stuck with something I know. [Cauley Stein] does everything: blocking shots, rebounding. Tall guy, very quick.”

### That left Mudiay on the board at No. 7 for Denver, which really liked Winslow but had Mudiay rated higher and considered trading up for him. Had Mudiay been gone, many expected Winslow would have been the pick.

### Detroit’s Stan Van Gundy, who had the eighth pick, became enamored with Arizona forward Stanley Johnson, who most had rated behind Winslow.

“I understand the comparison with Justise, but that was not the comparison for us,” Van Gundy told reporters. “The choice was not between those two at the end. Stanley has versatility and physicality and a chance to be a very, very good defender.”

Detroit media reported that Van Gundy had narrowed his choices to Johnson and Kentucky guard Devin Booker.

“Justise is a very good player and a great kid,” Van Gundy said. “But the main reason people ask that question [about selecting him] is because he’s from Duke and they won the national championship.I'm just being honest, it's not like people sat down and analyzed their games.

"But when the last game was played this year, Duke was playing, and Justise Winslow was in there, so there's a little bit of a bump from that. I'm not going to get into anything that would [criticize] Justise. We just thought Stanley was the best player on the board at that point.

"We loved his mentality," Van Gundy said of Johnson. "He's won everywhere. California, I was born there, it's a rather large state, and he won four straight state championships in high school. He didn't do that in some tiny, out-of-the-way state. It's an incredible thing.

"Then, he went into a team that returned four starters at Arizona, from a final-eight team, and ended up leading them in scoring. This guy's record of success is incredible, and we're really sold on the fact that this guy wants to be great, and is willing to put in the time and effort to be great."

### The Celtics wanted to jump the Heat to select Winslow at No. 9, but Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan surprisingly turned down a Boston offer that included as many as six draft picks, including four potential first-rounders, according to multiple reports.

Jordan became enchanted with Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky, whom he selected ninth.

“Maybe we were going too hard at it,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said of his trade pursuit with Charlotte. “There was a time when I thought, ‘Whoa, this is getting a little out of control.’ We’re putting a lot of eggs in one young player’s basket. So I’m not frustrated. In the long run, maybe it’ll be the best.”

Hornets coach Steve Clifford said Charlotte also considered Winslow and Booker. Hornets GM Rich Cho said the Hornets simply had Kaminsky rated ahead of Winslow.

“I don’t want really want to talk about Justise,” Cho said. “We drafted Frank. We thought Frank was the best available player.”

Charlotte Observer columnist Tom Sorensen ripped the pick, saying “the decision is as puzzling as any the Hornets have made.”

And so the Heat was left to celebrate Winslow dropping to them at 10, something they never saw coming.

“When you’re picking 10 but you don’t think this kid is even going to be close to you… and he drops down, you get some palpitations,” Riley said.

Heat owner “Micky [Arison] and Nick [Arison] started singing the Duke fight song, whatever it is,” Riley cracked. “They’re pretty excited with all the connections they have with Duke and that whole program we have great respect for. We’re very fortunate he got to us.”


A few things were clear from Tennessee guard Josh Richardson’s conference call with reporters Friday, a night after the Heat selected him in the second round, 40th overall:

1) Richardson is very pleased Miami took him. “Incredibly excited. Miami’s a great program.”

He said his family and friends at his home during the draft “kind of started freaking out. It’s setting in now.”

2) He thinks a lot of his defense and with good reason; he was a defensive All-American last season.

“I just know the way the Miami Heat likes to play defense,” he said. “They like to guard and get into people, and I think I kind of fit that mold. Being able to learn from somebody like Dwyane Wade is huge. I think I can come in and give us some great defense and knock down some open shots.”

3) He believes he has improved his three-point shooting, evidenced by the fact that he shot 36 percent as a senior last season after shooting less than 25 percent on threes in his first two seasons.

The reason for his improvement?

“It was being in the gym every day,” he said. “I made tweaks. I think I can be a solid three-point shooter at the NBA level. I’m a way better shooter than I was in college. My form is different.”

At 6-6, Richardson said he also offers “great playmaking ability to get guys open shots. I make great decisions when I’m on the court.”

Tennessee needed him to play some point guard last season and that “showed my versatility, how good a ball-handler I can be,” he said.

He auditioned for the Heat in Miami on May 28 and met afterward for 30 minutes with Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra.

### The Heat has begun filling out a roster that will join Richardson, Winslow, James Ennis, Tyler Johnson and Shabazz Napier (health permitting) on the Heat’s Summer League teams in Orlando and Las Vegas. Among the players added by Miami on Friday:

1) Northern Iowa 6-8 forward Seth Tuttle, the Missouri Valley Conference’s Player of the Year last season. He averaged 15.3 points and 6.9 rebounds and shot 60.4 percent from the field overall and 43.2 percent on threes (19 for 44).

2) Michigan State 6-0 point guard Travis Trice, who led the Spartans in points (15.3) and assists (5.3) as a senior while shooting 39.7 percent overall and 36.9 on threes.

3) Davidson 6-4 guard Tyler Kalinoski, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year who averaged 16.7 points and shot 42.3 percent from three-point range (91-215).


### On ESPN.com, Chad Ford gave the Heat an A-plus. His assessment: “Winslow landing at No. 10 reminds me a lot of when Kawhi Leonard fell to the Spurs at No. 15 in 2011. Some things are meant to be for both player and team. Winslow is a perfect fit, as a player and a person, into the culture Pat Riley has built in Miami. He’s not only going to thrive there as a player, he’ll have a chance to win now surrounded by Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Goran Dragic.

“While Winslow isn’t the type of player that carries a team offensively, he’s the glue guy that makes everyone better, does all the little things and plays with toughness. He has a high basketball IQ and is relentless at working on his game and getting better. I think he could be a Leonard-type player someday.

“Richardson is a versatile, athletic guard who can play the 1 and 2. He was another draft sleeper for me. The Heat just seriously upgraded their wings.”

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz   

June 25, 2015

Midnight: Pat Riley addresses Wade & other issues; Coach K believes Winslow is another D-Wade; Analysts assess Winslow and Heat's second-round pick; Dolphins, UM, Marlins

The Friday buzz column, with lots of reaction on the Heat's draft picks, is below. First, here's what Pat Riley had to say during a midnight news conference:

### Riley said "we have not received any information" from Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng about whether they will opt out and become free agents before Monday night's deadline.

"We don't know if they're going to opt in or not," he said.

"I do believe they love Miami," he said of Wade, Deng and Goran Dragic. "They love this franchise. We'll try to make a deal. That's what it's about."

### Riley, on Wade's situation: "We want Dwyane back. There is no doubt about that.... He's been here 12 years. We have corgial conversations with him. We talk to his agent a lot about other players he may represent in the draft. There haven't been any real discussions about anything because that can't take place until 12:01 on July 1."

### Asked if it's advantageous for Wade to opt in, Riley said: "When a player has an opportunity to be a free agent, you give him the space and the time to think about that. I don't care how long he's been with the franchise. We love Dwyane. He's probably alongside Alonzo.... Dwyane is a pillar. He has been part of the root structure and foundation of this franchise for 12 years. I know what we can talk about in that sense. You have to give players the space. On July 1, we'll be the first ones he'll get to talk to and we'll go from there."

### Asked if Wade feels disrespect, Riley said: "That hasn't been expressed to us. I've read some things. That hasn't been expressed to us, and if it is, it would be a personal conversation with Dwyane and with Micky [Arison] or Nick [Arison] and myself if there are any of those kinds of issues.

"Everybody in this organization over the years has sacrificed and I would have to say the one player from that standpoint that has sacrificed a lot for the sake of winning has been him. We're aware of that. But I haven't heard anything [about] disrespect. We respect him. We want him back, want him here for the rest of his career. That's obvious. We will try to do everything we can do to make that happen."

### Is Riley concerned Wade might not come back? "I'm not a pessimist when it comes to that," Riley said. "We have a lot to offer here with all of our free agents, not just Dwyane but Goran and Luol [Deng]. Everybody knows with the injuries we had last year, having the 10th pick in the draft. Really, I don't think we're a 10th pick in the draft team with the kind of roster we can put together if healthy and contend in the East. I think they're aware of that. Players want to win.

"Whatever I think today is really irrelevant. I want all of them to come back. I would like to be able to make a deal with all of these players and keep the team we built last year together and we'll find that out July 1. And we'll have eight or nine days to deal with that. Before that, it's really speculation. Everybody should just chill a little bit until July 1. There's been a lot written out there."

### Riley disputed ESPN and CBS reports that the Heat is trying to trade veterans to slash payroll to ease the tax burden they would incur re-signing Wade and Dragic.

"No, not really any truth [to that]," Riley said. "In the draft, a lot of players are being discussed. A lot of players being moved. There hasn't been any real discussion with that. We like the team we have. We don't like to add by subtraction.

"We have a good team and we could have a great team if we can put everything together. There have been a couple situations that went on [of trimming payroll with] Mike Miller and Joel Anthony. This is also a business as much as it is about basketball. But right now, we're not actively doing anything but getting ready for July 1."

### On Dragic: "I feel confident this is where he wants to be. He knew how much we gave up for him. He wants to here. He let me know that in the exit meeting. There hasn't been any discussion. He's in Slovenia with his wife, who's expecting in a month and a half. Other than some texts back and forth about her condition, there hasn't been anything else."

### Riley, on Winslow: "It was somewhat of a surprise [that he fell]. We didn't think he was going to be there at 10. We scouted him. It reminds me of what happened with Caron Butler.... It's a great day for us and a great day for our fans. A very positive pick for us.

"Justise is an incredible, very mature, young at 19, player that anybody that has watched him play can see that he's not only athletic, but he's a playmaker, a multiple position player.

"We had him very high on our board. We're very fortunate he got to us. If all these guys come back, he just adds to the depth we're going to have. He's a very mature guy who loves to work.

"Justise can guard four positions. I think you saw something in the Finals this year that was a little different when you had a 6-7 forward [Draymond Green] playing center. Justise is similar to Draymond Green. He shoots over 40 percent on threes, great rebounder, can bust out on dribbles and go coast to coast.

"You are going to see an extremely versatile team next year with the players we have."

Riley raved about Winslow's play during the NCAA Tournament. "On the biggest stage he performs at that level as a freshman with no fear of playing on that stage. It's unlimited where this guy can go. There's a lot he needs to improve as young players do. What I like about him the most is he's an attacker. He wants to attack the rim.

"To have a player that is that aggressive and also a guy that can take threes and make threes in games, you will find development possibilities in his mid-range game. You will find out whether or not if he can really handle pick and rolls as a ball handler. He likes to reject a lot of those screens and sort of attack the rim. He's also a post-up player with his size, weight, leverage and strength. Will that translate into a player that you can take down into the post in the NBA? I think it will. What I like about him is he defends....

"Of all the players we talked to, every single person we talked to --- all they did was compliment him about his work ethic and the amount of time he spends in June in the weight room. When you're picking 10 but you don't think this kid is even going to be close to you isn't going to drop to you and he drops down, you get some palpitations. Micky [Arison] and Nick [Arison] started singing the Duke fight song, whatever it is. They're pretty excited with all the connections they have with Duke and that whole program we have great respect for."

### Riley on the Heat's second-round pick, Tennessee shooting guard Josh Richardson: "We had Josh Richardson on our board in the first round. We got two very good athletes, two wing players, at a position we do need to fill. Josh was an all-defensive team two years in a row in the SEC. We have two guys who can really defend people and two guys who can score."

### Riley said there was a "big we really liked to" that was taken earlier. That might be Willie Cauley Stein, who went to Sacramento sixth.

### Riley mentioned the game the Heat lost in Milwaukee in late March when Khris Middleton hit a three-pointer at the buzzer. That ultimately sent the Heat to the lottery.

"Today we had the chance to draft No. 10. I don't think we're a No. 10 draft pick team," Riley said. "We're better than that. Today, I can thank Kris Middleton in Milwaukee. That was a bad day for us. Today, we can thank him for making that shot with .8 seconds to go. We got a break. We need them in this game."  



Note: Please scroll down for several updates tonight, including details on Miami's second-round pick.... Updates below are preceded by time of update.

In Justise Winslow, does the Heat have another Dwyane Wade? That’s what Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told ESPN’s Jay Bilas last fall.

Some feedback from analysts on Winslow, selected 10th overall by Miami in Thursday’s NBA Draft:

### Bilas: “In the preseason,… Krzyzewski told me that Winslow was Dwyane Wade. That floored me, because Coach K is not an exaggerator with regard to players. Winslow is strong, super athletic and an attacking wing who can hit from 3-point distance in catch and shoot situations [but] has to improve three-point shooting [overall].

“Outstanding defender and can block shots in spectacular fashion at the end of a break. Excellent in transition and a great finisher. Also very good in transition as a defender. In the open floor, he’s absolutely magnificent.

“He needs to work on his pull-up game, and he could refine his jump shot, but he is the best wing in this draft. Has 6-10 wingspan. Difficult to stop in transition. Plays bigger than his height (6-6)…. He has amazing timing to go up and block a shot, almost LeBron James like in his ability to do that. Not nearly as good [as LeBron].”

### ESPN.com’s Chad Ford: “I love Winslow; I tend to love players who play with his type of toughness and motor. Players like him do so many things that can’t be quantified in the box score. He reminded me more of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist than Wade, however…. I wonder whether he has Wade’s elite scoring instincts or is quite on par with Wade’s explosive athletic ability. I wonder whether he’ll be known more for his defense than his offense.”

### ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla projects him as a shooting guard, not a small forward: “An elite athlete with speed, strength. Winner, high character guy. Shot the ball well from three [41.6 percent], especially late in the year.

“The flip side is how much was it done at the 12 games at the end of the year where he was playing power forward for Coach K. Bigger, slower guys were trying to stay in front of him and it was an impossible task. He benefitted from great exposure in the NCAA Tournament.”

Fraschilla said Winslow also benefitted by playing a lot of power forward in college: “A coach will have to play him creatively offensively. He’s a freight train offensively in transition but a lot of that happened with 6-9 players flying by him. He doesn’t have a midrange game right now. Everything was standstill on threes, nothing off the dribble. I have seen noticeable improvement on his outside shooting, though.”

### ESPN’s Jalen Rose likened Winslow to former NBA standout Ron Artest and says Winslow will be better than players selected earlier tonight: “Ability to play multiple positions. Toughness to compete at any time. This reminds me of when Wade got drafted behind Darko Milicic…. This is why Pat Riley continues to win.”

### ESPN's Shane Battier, another former Duke player: "Absolutely love the pick. Worker and competitor and champion."

### (10:10 update): Here's what Winslow told fans at the Heat's draft party at AmericanAirlines Arena: "Going to South Beach. Miami Heat organization, Pat Riley, I'm so excited to go down there and try to win a championship. Winning is what I like to do. That's the reason I wanted to go to Duke. Trying to go to the next level now and trying to bring some championships to Miami.....

"I'm a guy that really prides myself on my defense. Offensively, I'm a guy that can do it all, knock down open jump shots, going to the rack, making winning basketball plays. To go 10 to an organization like the Heat is a blessing... Pat Riley was just as excited as me. It was my first time talking [to him]. It's a blessing."

Winslow's stats in his one year at Duke: 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 turnovers and 29.1 minutes. He shot 48.6 percent from the field but just 64.1 percent on free throws (100 for 156).

Winslow, 19, was terrific in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 14.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and shooting 50.9 percent from the field. He made 8 of 14 threes in the NCAA Tournament. He had 11 points and nine boards in 32 minutes against Wisconsin in the national title game.

"I wanted to make the most of the opportunity," he said. "When lights got brighter, I shined even brighter. That's something I prided myself on. Knowing when the team needs me, to put the team on my back and come up big in the big moments."

### (10:50 p.m. update): Winslow, in his conference call with writers here in the Heat's media room: "This is an organization that wants to win right now. That's what I'm accustomed to doing. To be part of an organization that's winning now, that's an environment I will really be able to thrive in. I'm really excited to meet all the guys, meet Pat Riley. Just so excited [to be drafted by the Heat]."...

"My maturity has helped me become a great player. Learning how to be a professional from Coach K, on and off the court." He said from playing in the spotlight at Duke, "I have a pretty easy job transitioning to the NBA."

He said he had no personal contact at all with the Heat during the draft process... On his development as a shooter: "I've always been confident in my shooting. I want to do it all. I want to score. I want to find different ways to score. My vision is being a well-rounded guy who can do everything."

### Winslow's agent at Roc Nation told me last week that he spoke to the Heat throughout the process but that Winslow didn't come to South Florida to work out for the Heat.... Winslow's father Rickie played collegiately at Houston (1983-87) and was a member of the famed Phi Slamma Jama team that included Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

### (11:40 update): Tennessee 6-6 shooting guard Josh Richardson, the Heat's second-round pick at No. 40, averaged 16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists last season, shooting 46.1 percent overall and 35.9 percent on threes (46 for 128). He shot only 18 for 80 on threes over his first two seasons but increased his percentage to 34.0 and 35.9 the past two seasons.

Richardson was first-team All SEC as a senior and was a defensive All-American. He was needed to play point guard at times last season and can do it. As a bonus, he also plays classical piano.

Bilas, on Richardson: "A long winspan. A wing defender. A guy who can really run the floor. Terrific speed. Not great with his ball skills. Has improved his shooting. Certainly not a great shooter. Has a little bit of an odd release. His value is as an athlete and defender."

Richardson worked out for the Heat on May 28.


### Quick update on last year’s Heat first-round pick: Though Shabazz Napier said he wants to play in Summer League in Orlando and Las Vegas next month, he is being cautious after sports hernia surgery because “I don't want to re-injure myself. Recovery is terrible. You’re dealing with the pain. After the surgery, I had to understand how to use my abs again. Everything you do is low abs.”

Napier’s game needs work. His 1.60 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked 87th of 97 point guards and he shot 38.8 percent from the field and 36 percent on jumpers.

Napier spoke of taking 500 shots a day but said he doesn’t need to work with a shooting coach. His confidence hasn’t eroded: “I know I am going to be a good NBA player.”

### Though Dwyane Wade has interest in the Lakers, Los Angeles is expected to target power forwards (LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love) with their cap space after drafting point guard D’Angelo Russell to join Kobe Bryant in their backcourt.

### Please see the last post for details on why UM dismissed offensive tackle Taylor Gadbois today.

### Dolphins players have been effusive about how Ryan Tannehill has looked all offseason. Even the deep throws are improved. “Ryan is way better than last year and more of a leader,” tight end Dion Sims said.

### Not only has Giancarlo Stanton hit seven of the 12 longest home runs in baseball this season, but consider this: He has smacked 18 home runs that have traveled at a velocity of 115 MPH or higher. The next closest player has three. Remarkable… On the flip side, on pitches thrown at least 95 MPH by right-handers, Stanton is hitting .154, compared with .258 from 2010 through 2014, according to ESPN.

### Justin Nicolino gets a chance Friday to build on the best first start ever by a Marlins rookie pitcher (seven scoreless innings against the Reds), and his debut showed why the Marlins say they were never concerned about his lack of strikeouts (5.4 per nine innings in the minors). Nicolino averaged just 89 MPH on his fastball against the Reds but has great movement on his pitches: “I don’t need to throw 95 to get guys out. I was a big Tom Glavine fan and the change-up was huge for Glavine and Johan Santana. My change-up has saved me games. The Marlins see something in me and value it.”

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz        

More on Taylor Gadbois' dismissal; Heat draft notes

In the wake of UM's dismissal of offensive tackle Taylor Gadbois, here are a couple of things we've heard from people involved:

### Gadbois, as we've written, was in line to be suspended for several games. Associates of Gadbois were told that his issue stemmed from using a substance to expedite his recovery from a knee injury. 

As of a couple of weeks ago, his suspension for that was under review, according to someone with direct knowledge.

WQAM host and NBC 6 anchor Adam Kuperstein reported on Twitter that he was definitely going to be suspended until mid-October.

### The suspension, however, is not the primary reason he was booted from the team. We were told that UM coaches didn't believe he fit into the team culture, that he was a pain in the butt at times, so to speak.

He has had run-ins with teammates in the past and had a reputation for being boastful, which was evident two weeks ago when he told The Palm Beach Post's Matt Porter that he's the best offensive lineman on the team.

One UM person has likened him in the past to Richie Incognito in terms of personality, though we emphasize that there is NO indication that Gadbois bullied teammates like Incognito did.

Kuperstein said Gadbois upset coaches during a military-style training session Wednesday.

Gadbois, reached today by the Post's Porter, told him that UM "didn’t feel I was being positive enough with the team, with the young guys, which I completely disagree with. I mean, I work with these guys every single day."

Gadbois this week participated in UM's three-day conditioning event with included Marine-style training. He told Porter that he was called into Golden's office on Thursday and told he was off the team.  

Gadbois started four games last season. Without him, Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling are strong candidates to start at the two tackle positions, with newcomers Jahair Jones and Tyree St. Louis among others competing for playing time.

Couple quick Heat notes:

### ESPN's Chad Ford reported last night that Charlotte probably would draft Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky ninth, raising hopes that the Heat could land Kentucky sharp-shooter Devin Booker 10th. But CBS' Ken Berger said today that the Hornets are "said to be targeting" Booker.

If Booker is gone, that could leave the Heat with a choice from among most of these players: Kaminsky, Stanley Johnson, Sam Dekker, Trey Lyles, Myles Turner and Willie-Cauley Stein. Detroit could take one of those players at 8.

### Besides working out all the players in the mix at No. 10, the Heat also paraded a bunch of second-round possibilities through AmericanAirlines Arena sessions, including Iowa power forward Aaron White. Miami holds the 40th pick in the second round.

### RealGM.com said the Heat has shown interest in Sacramento 6-10 backup power forward Eric Moreland, who has appeared in just three NBA games, and remains under contract to the Kings.

### Please see the last post for a lot more Heat notes... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz.com

June 24, 2015

Wednesday night Heat notes: Payroll cutting?; Wade; Dragic; Free agents; Draft

Some pre-draft Heat chatter:

### For the second time this week, a national media outlet has reported the Heat’s desire to shed salary. In the wake of ESPN’s report that Miami is trying to dump Mario Chalmers (due $4.3 million next season) and Chris Andersen (due $5 million), CBS’ Ken Berger said the Heat is open to trading the 10th pick if it helps them unload salary. Berger mentioned Josh McRoberts, who’s owed $17 million over the next three years.

Just a thought: If there’s no player at 10 that Pat Riley feels strongly about, he could trade the 10th pick and a veteran (Chalmers or McRoberts or Andersen) and trade back in the first round, then get a skilled-shooting two guard or small forward in the late teens or 20s --- perhaps UNLV’s Rashad Vaughn, Georgia State’s RJ Hunter (if still on the board) or Virginia’s Justin Anderson.

The reports of the Heat's desire to trim payroll would mean two things:

1) Miami wants to be able to pay Dwyane Wade a substantial amount next season without incurring a huge luxury tax bill.

2) If the Heat can't come to a deal with Wade, it wants to have some cap space to fill out a roster around Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic (presuming he re-signs) and Hassan Whiteside. If Wade and Luol Deng leave, and if the Heat dumps Chalmers and Andersen without bringing money back, and if Miami re-signs Dragic, it could have around $11 million in cap space, depending on Dragic's first-year salary. But if Deng opts in, Miami wouldn't have any real cap space in this scenario.

### ESPN's Chad Ford speculated tonight that Charlotte's acquisition of Nic Batum from Portland today "probably" means the Hornets will take Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky 9th. "Charlotte told Kaminsky reps they are high on him," ESPN's Andy Katz said. (The Hornets also acquired guard Jeremy Lamb from OKC, according to a Tulsa TV station.)

This means Kentucky shooting guard Devin Booker could be available to Miami at No. 10, if Miami wants him, unless Detroit takes him at No. 8. Booker said that Pat Riley told him last month that Riley would envision him backing up Wade and learning from him.

### Berger said rival executives “are split” on whether Wade will stay in Miami. He said one Western Conference executive told him "there are strong indications Wade is gone, with Cleveland and the Lakers chief among his likely destinations.” [My quick aside: Difficult to see him going to Cleveland for exception money.]

But Berger said another Western Conference official predicted Wade will stay in Miami. "I don't see why they'd argue and fight after what they've both done for each other and for that franchise," the exec said.

Associates of Wade remain uncertain how this will turn out. Though they say they won’t be the least bit surprised if he leaves --- and so none of us should be, either -- it’s still hard for me to believe that the Heat would allow its signature player to leave acrimoniously.

### Amid reports from ESPN’s Chris Broussard and RealGM.com that the Heat has interest in Monta Ellis (who’s reportedly opting out), keep this in mind: The Heat could afford Ellis only if two of three leave among Wade, Dragic and Deng (who will become a free agent unless he invokes an opt-in by Monday, which he hasn’t to this point).

And also keep this in mind: The Mavericks reportedly were troubled by Ellis' moodiness and reportedly have no interest in re-signing him.

On the plus side, Ellis would A) be cheaper than Wade (Ellis opted out of $8.7 million and might get around $10 million next season); B) he would be a fit in an up tempo game that the Heat wants to implement; and C) his 19.3 scoring average is the highest in history among players that have never been an All-Star.

Wade ranked 11th in the NBA in scoring at 21.5 points per game last season. Ellis ranked 19th at 18.9.

Wade missed 20 games last season; Ellis missed two.

If Wade opts out as he prefers, he would jump to the front of the class of unrestricted free agent shooting guards, along with Danny Green (Dallas reportedly plans to target him), Wes Matthews, Aaron Afflalo, Ellis and Lou Williams.

### The Heat hasn’t informed Michael Beasley if it’s picking up his $1.3 million team option for next season. The Heat has until midnight Monday night to make that decision.

### The Heat never brought in Duke’s Justise Winslow for a workout, believing he wouldn’t fall to them at 10. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said even though he wouldn’t expect Winslow to slip to 10, “it wouldn’t shock me. An elite athlete with speed, size, power and strength. Measures as a two-guard at 6-5. He’s a winner.

“The flip side is how much was it done in the 12 games at the end of the year when he was playing power forward. Bigger, slower guys were trying to stay in front of him and it was an impossible task. A coach will have to play him creatively on offense. He doesn’t have a mid-range game right now."

### Some asked us how the Heat can justify paying Goran Dragic so much money. But keep in mind that when the cap jumps dramatically in 2016, $17 million to $19 million will be the going rate for players of his caliber. (Heck, an executive told The Sporting News that DeMarre Carroll can expect to get more than $15 million.)

And the Heat simply cannot risk losing Dragic --- a third-team All-NBA selection in 2013-14 --- after trading two future No. 1 picks.

As we noted in the last post, we’re told the Dragic camp fully expects a Heat offer of between $90 million and $100 million over five years. If Miami doesn’t offer that, it would be a surprise to them.

Offering $80 million or even $85 million over five would leave the Heat at risk because other teams could offer a maximum of $86 million over four. And even if Dragic is offered only, say, $75 million over four years by another team, the Heat needs a market-value fifth year salary to entice Dragic to stay.

Both the Heat and Dragic remain optimistic a deal will get done.

### For those wondering about Deng potentially opting out of a $10.1 million salary next season, keep in mind that a player with nearly identical scoring and rebounding stats last season (Thaddeus Young) just opted out of a near identical salary ($10.2 million) from the Nets. Though Young, at 27, is three years younger than Deng, he has never been an All-Star, something Deng has achieved twice.

### Quick TV note: ESPN has chosen Jay Williams to replace the jettisoned-Bill Simmons on its NBA Draft set, alongside Rece Davis, Jay Bilas and Jalen Rose.

Please see the last post for a lot more draft stuff... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

June 23, 2015

Analysts, scouts assess Heat options at No. 10 in draft; Dragic; Dolphins, Marlins, Canes items


For insight into the Heat’s options with the 10th pick in Thursday's draft, we solicited input from Fran Fraschilla (a college basketball TV analyst who has become a major asset on ESPN’s draft coverage), Ryan Blake, the NBA’s senior director of scouting operations, and two veteran NBA scouts.

Some feedback:

### All agree Devin Booker would be a great pick for Miami, but the Kentucky shooting guard could go ninth to Charlotte. So if Booker’s gone, then what?

Even though he knows Miami’s power rotation is in good shape, Fraschilla said if he were Pat Riley, he would take Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky next if Booker is gone and Kentucky power forward Trey Lyles third if Booker and Kaminsky are off the boards --- all ahead of small forwards Stanley Johnson (Arizona) or Sam Dekker (Wisconsin).

Kaminsky is appealing “because it’s so hard in the NBA game to find a stretch five,” Fraschilla said. “He has some Ryan Anderson in him.”

Blake projects Kaminsky, at 6-11, to be more of a power forward than center: “He’s a coach’s dream: smart player, versatile, unselfish, can shoot. Can he defend big centers? He’s got to get stronger” to do that.

One of the scouts, on Kaminsky: “Very unique talent, guys that size who can handle the ball like that. To me, he's like Josh McRoberts but a better talent.”

The other scout: “People are underestimating him. He’s got three-point range and a post-up game. He would be a good pick at 10.”

And Lyles?  “Lyles is a Miami Heat kind of guy,” Fraschilla said. “Trey has got a David West kind of game. He has the room to become a great NBA player. He was 4 for 29 on threes, but his low post analytical numbers were outstanding. He’s a low post scorer. He’s 6-10 and just 19.”

The scouts had generally positive feedback on Lyles. One said his distance shooting will improve in the NBA and “he does a lot of things well, but I’m not sure he’s great at anything.”

### Johnson would fill a need and could become a poor man’s Kawhi Leonard, according to Blake.

“He has an energy level like Leonard, good ball-handler, gym rat, a real worker,” Blake said. “He’s always in attack mode.”

But there are concerns: “He’s not going to finish at the rim early in his career,” Fraschilla said. “He looks like a young Ron Artest with the body type but they’re completely different players. Extremely strong and well-put together.

“[Like Artest], he can become a very good defender. But he has to learn to defend guys who are a little quicker. There wasn’t a need for him to shoot a lot of threes, but he should become a good three-point shooter. He went from being hard-headed and tough to coach at Arizona to completely buying into Sean Miller and the coaching staff by the end of the year. You can coach him hard.”

One scout said of Johnson: “The game comes very easy for him, but I thought he played at a coasting pace at times.”

Another scout: “He has a low release point on his shot. Not exceptionally quick. The more I saw him, the less I liked him.”

### What about Dekker, who (along with Johnson) have both been linked to Detroit at No. 8?

Fraschilla said two things concern him:

1) The decline in three-point shooting (from 39.1 percent as a freshman to 33.1 as a junior this year) and

2) “Is he getting a Final Four bump? He has gone up seven or eight spots because of a great NCAA Tournament."

Fraschilla said Dekker "has got some things going for him: size [6-9], good athleticism and good toughness. The key to his career is can be become a flat-out knock-down three-point shooter?”

He shot well overall from the field (52 percent) because Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan “was putting him in great isolation situations, creating mismatches,” Fraschilla said.

Blake compares Dekker with Atlanta small forward DeMarre Carroll “with bigger size. He may not be franchise player but he can be a Carroll or Shane Battier.”

Said one of the scouts: “The question for me is whether he shoots well enough. Teams historically have been fooled by [high-level] NCAA Tournament performance and that could be happening here.”

### Fraschilla and the scouts believe No. 10 is too high for Kansas small forward Kelly Oubre and Georgia State guard RJ Hunter.

“Oubre, in time, can become a very good shooter and wing defender but is very raw by NBA standards,” Fraschilla said. “With a good team, he’ll be redshirted. His ball-handling is a little suspect. I think mid-teens for him.

“With Hunter, I’d be scared to take him [at 10]. Overall NBA athleticism and inconsistent shooting keep me from putting him higher than 15.”

One of the scouts on Oubre: “I saw him a lot. Even though he’s long and athletic, the performance was pretty average.”

### Booker would be the sensible choice if he surprisingly slips to No. 10, Fraschilla and the scouts said.

Said Blake: “Great shooting numbers and he’s able to get to the free throw line. Not a great ball-handler but crafty enough to create for himself.”

The scout said Booker’s defense isn’t bad and he “would be a great pick at 10. At any other school, he would have been a star.” 

### Fraschilla said at No. 10, he would not consider two power forwards (excluding Lyles) who have been tossed around in that range in mock drafts: Texas’ Myles Turner (“I worry about his athleticism”) and Arkansas’ Bobby Portis (“would be a great pick between 15 and 25. He’s like Udonis Haslem”).

Incidentally, besides Turner, do not by any means rule out Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein, a top-eight talent who could slip to 10.

Miami summoned the 7-1 Cauley-Stein to South Florida for a workout in the past week. Cauley-Stein, who averaged 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks at Kentucky --- is raw offensively but would be insurance if Hassan Whiteside bolts as an unrestricted free agent in 2016. He also could be a trade chip.

### Fraschilla said the Heat would have to take Duke's Justise Winslow or Mario Hezonja at 10 if either surprisingly falls. “The only reason Hezonja would slip is if someone has concern about his maturity,” Fraschilla said. “Part of that is a fiery, competitive personality which I think would be a positive for him. He’s the only guy in this draft who can win both the three-point contest and dunk contest.”    

### Murray State point guard Cameron Payne is also in Miami’s range (“he a left-handed Damian Lillard,” Fraschilla said) but “Miami doesn’t make sense for him” because he can’t play two-guard, Fraschilla said.


### Amid an ESPN report that the Heat will offer Goran Dragic a five-year deal in excess of $80 million, the Dragic camp expects the proposal to be five years for between $90 million and $100 million.

That’s less than the $115 million Miami can offer but more than the four years and $86 million that another team can offer. The Heat and the Dragic camp remain optimistic a deal will get done with Miami.

### Hassan Whiteside, tonight on Twitter: "Man if another person ask me if d wade staying in Miami I'm going to lose it! I DONT KNOW!!! I just catch LOBS from the man 💯 #HeatNation."

### In the wake of gamblers betting a lot of money on Miami winning the Super Bowl, the Mirage and 11 Nevada casinos have dropped the odds of the Dolphins winning the Super Bowl from 50-to-1 to 20-to-1, which represents the 10th shortest odds among 32 teams.

Who has shorter odds than the Dolphins? Seattle, Green Bay, Indy, New England, Dallas, Denver, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and surprisingly, Buffalo.

### The Marlins --- who will have nine starting pitchers when Jose Fernandez and Henderson Alvarez return --- have been getting trade calls inquiring about many of them, but they say they don’t want to trade any of them. They’re OK going with six starters before the All-Star break, five after.

###  Dan Jennings says Derek Dietrich (who learned first base this past winter) has made himself a viable option at that position. But the Marlins are committed to getting Michael Morse’s bat going when he returns at some point in the next week or so.  

### Adidas, eager to make UM feel special as it takes over its apparel contract from Nike, informed the Hurricanes it will unveil their new uniforms in a July 18 bash at the Fontainebleau on Miami Beach. Adidas says it's not ready to confirm that or release details...

### Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, in an apparent attempt to significantly expand his sports portfolio, is partnering with a group of Qatari investors in a bid to purchase controlling interest of the Formula One auto racing circuit in a deal estimated between $7 billion and $8 billion, The Financial Times reported Tuesday.

Ross’ potential purchase could be the prelude for Formula One’s entrance into the United States.

In March, Forbes ranked Ross as the world’s 216th-wealthiest person, with a net worth of $6.5 billion. That ranked 72nd among U.S. residents and fifth among owners of a team in a U.S. pro sports league --- behind only the Los Angeles Clippers’ Steve Ballmer; Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen; Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Heat owner Micky Arison ($7.1 billion).           

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz  

June 22, 2015

Monday hoop notes: On Wade contract, Riley, Dragic, trade report, NBA Draft and college hoops announcement set

When Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade meet in the coming days, they must address matters beyond money. There’s also the critical issue of trust.

Yes, they go hand in hand, in the sense that a financial commitment to Wade’s liking will help restore trust in a relationship that clearly has been fractured.

Associates say Wade’s trust in the Heat has been damaged by Miami’s stance in contract negotiations. A friend has described Wade as “pissed” and not feeling like a priority to the organization.

So if the Heat hopes to keep Wade, Riley must not only substantially raise the Heat’s offer (a Wade associate said the Heat initially floated Wade opting in for $16 million this season, then making $10 million each of the subsequent two years), but he also must convince Wade that he’s valued, that he deserves to be rewarded handsomely for all that he has done.

The unanswered question is how much money Wade feels will be enough.

Is it the three-year, $60 million deal that he requested, according to an associate? Or would something closer to $50 million over three suffice? And would the Heat even go that high, knowing it would severely restrict its ability to sign an elite free agent in 2016?

Wade must inform the Heat by the end of June whether he's opting out of the final year of his two-year deal. He already has conveyed privately to the Heat that he prefers to opt out and also suggested that he would opt out in an ABC appearance when he said he won't deal with his future until July.

ESPN’s report Monday that Wade and the Heat will meet sometime in the next week isn’t really news. Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick reported weeks ago that the sides planned to meet in the days before the draft, and The Herald's Joe Goodman reported Sunday that there would be a meeting in the coming week. The sides might hold off until July 1, the official start of free agency.

At the very least, the meeting should at least give both sides clarity and a sense of whether this relationship can be salvaged. At this point, it genuinely could go either way.

### On “The Hot Corner,” an internet radio show, Wade’s father was non-committal when asked if Wade plans to stay with the Heat.

“You know I’ve heard that maybe two-to-three hundred times,” he said. “And the best answer I can probably give to that is, you guys have had D-Wade ever since he came in the league, let’s just pray with God that he stays here the rest of the way.”

### The new information in ESPN’s story today is that the Heat is trying to trade Chris Andersen (due $5 million next season) and Mario Chalmers (due $4.3 million) to make it easier to stomach a big salary for Wade.

The Heat likely will be over the cap if it re-signs Wade and Goran Dragic, regardless of whether it deals Andersen and Chalmers, and regardless of whether Luol Deng opts out or not.

So dealing Andersen and Chalmers wouldn’t open cap space (unless Wade and Dragic leave) but it would dramatically reduce the Heat’s luxury tax bill if Miami wants to give Wade a salary approaching the $23.5 million maximum next season.

The Heat could replace either player in the draft or with a free agent at the minimum or with the mini-mid level exception for $3.4 million or the non-taxpayer's exception of $5.5 million (depending on where Miami's payroll ends up).

Frank Kaminsky or Trey Lyles or Myles Turner or even Willie Cauley-Stein (if he lasts to 10) are possibilities to replace Andersen in the draft if Birdman is dealt. Devin Booker (if he lasts to 10) and swingman Stanley Johnson could replace what Chalmers offered as a backup shooting guard.

The Heat is covered at backup point guard with Tyler Johnson and Shabazz Napier.

The Heat declined to comment on Wade or the Andersen/Chalmers trade story. And in an unusual move, the Heat will not hold a news conference before the draft. Wade, disinclined to discuss his contract situation, will not hold his usual media availability at his fantasy camp this week.

### The Lakers have emerged as a threat for both Wade and Goran Dragic and have substantial cap space to be able to afford one. But with Kobe Bryant on the cap for $25 million and other cap commitments in place (such as $5.2 million for Nick Young), the Lakers couldn’t afford to pay market value for both.

But if the Lakers clear out cap space to make significant market-value offers for both, then the Heat should become alarmed because the Lakers hold some appeal to both and Dragic likes playing with Wade. But it would be difficult for L.A. to do that.

Dragic has long been considered likely to re-sign if Wade stays. If not, it’s more in question.

Dragic today made official his long-stated intentions to opt out of his contract.

### As for Cleveland, the Cavaliers could pay Wade only the mid-level exception unless they dump both Kevin Love (an impending free agent) and Tristan Thompson. Difficult to see Cleveland doing that, or Wade taking a $3.4 million taxpayer’s midlevel exception.

### Couple thoughts from ESPN’s Jay Bilas heading into Thursday’s draft: “Devin Booker and Frank Kaminsky are the best shooters in the draft. This is not a draft full of great shooters….. Frank is going to improve. What Kaminsky is right now is more than good enough. I still think he’s going to get better. He’s a top 10 pick because of who he is and not who he’s going to be.”…

On Stanley Johnson and Sam Dekker: “Sam is a good shooter. He’s a little bit streaky. He’s very athletic. Good in transition. Long, has size. I like him a lot. I think he’s a lottery player. I think Stanley Johnson is a lottery pick. Sam is a better shooter than Stanley.

“Stanley gets fouled more, gets to the free throw line more. He can be a better defender and better rebounder than Sam. The question is how high the motor will rev. That’s the issue with Stanley Johnson. He’s not a good shooter; he can make an open shot. He’s not a natural shooter, not a natural scorer. His offensive game is easier to limit than Sam. [But] I rate Stanley Johnson ahead of Sam as a prospect.”

### Look for the Orange Bowl to announce this week that the Gators will play Oklahoma State and FSU will play FAU in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic on Dec. 19 at BB&T Center in Sunrise.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz